A tree planted in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is one of many tree species to be recognized by the state of Wisconsin.
“It’s a big moment,” said Peter Wranen, a professor emeritus at the UW-Madison.
“We’ve had this conversation for a long time, but it’s a really big moment for the trees.”
It was not always this way.
In 1853, a British settler named George Henry Birkett planted a birch tree in his front yard.
In 1872, the U.S. government granted him a certificate of registration and he became a member of the American Ornithological Society.
Birkett was among the first trees planted in Wisconsin, and in 1910, he was the first person to receive the state tree certificate.
When Birkets’ tree was planted, there was little research or education about the tree’s history.
But by the 1980s, Birketts’ tree had been the subject of dozens of studies and a national conservation campaign.
Birkets tree was recognized as an endangered species in the late 1980s and the last of the state’s trees was cut down in 2003.
This year, the state Tree Conservancy announced it will begin a public comment period to determine if it will award the state certificate of designation.
A tree planted for Birkette in 1853.
But for Birks tree to be honored, it will need to be able to withstand wind erosion, drought, soil erosion, soil compaction, and other environmental stresses, according to the UW Tree Conservants website.
To be recognized as a state tree, Birks has to have at least 25 percent annual precipitation, and it has to be protected from fire and other human disturbances.
The state tree certification program is a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin State Parks and Forestry, the American Botanical Society and the University at Buffalo.